HAMILTON – Home Affairs Minister Walton Brown says municipal elections scheduled for May will be postponed for a year after he launched an attack on the Corporation of Hamilton’s “failures of accountability”.
The Municipalities Amendment Act, tabled in the House of Assembly on Friday by Brown, will give the minister more power over Corporation of Hamilton and the Corporation of St George’s and postpone the elections until May 2019, while consultation takes place.
Brown told the House “proper due diligence” was not carried out in the awarding of contracts and said that millions of dollars had gone missing.
He said talks with the corporations, residents and ratepayers would determine “the most appropriate way to strengthen and modernise municipal governance for the benefit of Bermuda”.
Brown later told reporters that the announcement would ensure “an extensive consultation period on the municipal reform process”.
“All stakeholders will be consulted during this important process,” Brown said. “Stakeholders include the voters and ratepayers, the councillors themselves and the general public.
“This bill will allow the government to lead on major infrastructure projects. These projects will attract investments to Bermuda and stimulate job growth.
“This legislation will also grant the municipalities the authority to pursue other projects in the interests of Bermuda, which they are not currently able to engage in.”
But Hamilton Mayor Charles Gosling said there was “no consultation whatsoever” before Brown delivered his ministerial statement.
Gosling said 90 per cent of Brown’s statement about the corporation was incorrect.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” he said.
Brown’s decision came three years after a succession of then opposition Progressive Labour Party MPs furiously attacked then minister Michael Fahy of the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) for taking more control of the Corporation of Hamilton.
Brown then said that the OBA’s move would create a “mockery of democracy” where elected officials would not be able to make their own decisions.
But Brown told MPs on Friday that further reform was needed because of “failures of accountability and proper due diligence and governance in the awarding of contracts”. (CMC)